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Poems For My Mother

-1-

death came in calicos of cold
as I heard from the mouth
of those who made the trip
of life before me.

it steals through clenched teeth
and folded palms taking away
your breath that we miss
so dearly with a sigh

at a tick of the clock
you were gone with the unwelcome
messenger;

quenching my infant hunger,
my mouth still suckling away
on your breast;
as I heard from
the elegiac wails
of crying eyes

mother, ashes of many years
counting to four decades
have died in the dunghills
drying our tears but your memories
lingers in the crevices of our minds

at the count of my fingers
the seeds of your seeds
has four less than two dozens
even I; last seed of your womb
has climbed the ladder
of fatherhood


-2-
if I shout at rooftop
that will not bring
you back to tell me
bedtime stories
that death stole from
your mouth
if I cry rivers of tears
will that make up
for the lullabies
that death deprived
my ears of?

if I sit at the feet
of your grave
gnawing syllabic dirges
of my orphanhood
will you come back
to tell the story
of how you met
my father to begat me?

if I go on asking
will answers come
from your mouth
that never spoke to me?


-3-
when the elephant
embarked on the journey
to its in-law,
the antelope asked:
“when are you coming back? ”

mother, you are not
an elephant, your in-laws
you do not know and
your in-laws do not know you
I have not come to ask;
when are you coming back

mother, I have come now
to tell you that, as you have
gone so early
your seeds will go very late

though we shall meet again
but none of your seeds
will join you soon,



-4-
in the coldness of early dawn
I unknot the riddle of your name
locked in the mouth of arcane pouch

“ebaikpenegbe”, mother of six seeds
living to carry on where you could not
I undress the meaning of your names
In the shelter of my poetry

”as close as we are “, buried in the belly
of your name is the meaning of life
though your life was brief, in its briefness
lies the distance between unity and disunity

your name is a loud cry for unity
your name is the soul of brotherliness
your name is the colour of human currency
without which a tree cannot make a forest


-5-
a day in the life of an orphan
sitting at the bank of the river
hosting drinking water and home
to guinea worms,

an antelope crosses, and her babies
following behind;
mother and children attending
to the needs of each other

am that orphan, searching the soul
of time to excavate the reason my mother
left me so soon,
did I envy baby antelope?
did I miss the cradle songs
of my mother?

when I open the page
of another poem
I will pour out the
musing of an orphan.



-6-
mounds of earth
dot the cemetery
of St. Marks Anglican
planted in the heart
of ikhin

inside one of these mounds
lay the dusty skeletons
of my mother

who can point
to the exact grave
of my mother?

where do I plant
the epitaph of my mother?

as I scribble these verses
for the memories
of my mother
my mind rove through
the corners of the cemetery
hoping to hear her voice
loud: “here I am”
so that I can post a requiem
on the grave

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